The gaming industry has grown bigger than ever over the past year, and COVID-19 has had a great deal to do with that. At the onset of the pandemic, cities everywhere went into full lockdown mode – and although restrictions have eased in many areas, it’s safe to say that many people are still spending a lot more time at home than they did before 2020.
So, what are you doing with all of that extra time at home? The data indicates that you’re probably playing more games than ever – and so is everyone else. Microsoft and Sony have both released their next-gen consoles, and months after their release, they’re still hard to find. The story is just as bad for PC gamers. It’s virtually impossible to buy the latest NVIDIA video cards unless you’re willing to pay a scalper, and NVIDIA expects demand to continue outstripping supply for the rest of 2021.
If you enjoy playing competitive online games, the one thing that you’d really like to do is get better at those games – and that’s where this article comes in. Maybe you’d like to get better because you’ve seen the money that streamers and YouTube personalities are earning, and you’d like to see if gaming can become a second career for you. Maybe you’d like to compete professionally one day. Maybe you just hate losing and want to improve your stats. Whatever your reason may be, you’re in the right place. Here’s how to improve your gaming performance right now.
Keep Your Arms and Hands in Top Condition
Success or failure in gaming is a matter of fractions of seconds. Getting your crosshairs into position just a little bit faster than your opponent can be the thing that determines whether you win or lose. When people look for ways to improve their response times, they often spend too much of their energy examining external factors. While it’s certainly important to make sure that your computer’s specs are up to snuff, you should never lose sight of the role that your body plays in gaming. It’s the machine that transmits messages from your brain to your hands. Anything that makes your body less efficient is going to hurt your gaming performance, and those factors are only going to become magnified during longer gaming sessions.
- Invest in a comfortable chair that offers elbow support and allows you to sit up without straining your back.
- Make sure that your forearms aren’t resting against the front corner of your desk, because that leads to poor circulation.
- Take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch your muscles.
- Treat aches, pains and cramps promptly. Massaging your hands, fingers and wrists with a high-strength CBD cream can help relieve pain and inflammation fast and keep you on your game.
Keep Your Eyes in Top Condition
While we’re talking about optimizing your body for better gaming performance, we can’t neglect the performance of your eyes. Things can happen pretty quickly in a competitive game, and if you’re squinting and struggling to see the details on your screen, your reaction times are guaranteed to suffer.
- Take a moment to relax your eyes between rounds by focusing on objects at different distances.
- Position your monitor to avoid glare from the sun and lights.
- Consider wearing glasses that filter out blue light, which can cause eye fatigue.
- Consider taking a supplement for ocular health. Lutein, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are all popular options.
Eliminate Causes of Latency
Although improving your body’s performance can give you an unbeatable edge in gaming, you also can’t neglect the performance of your computer. If you’re on a tight budget, there’s no reason to lose sleep fretting over the video card shortage. There are plenty of other ways to make your computer more responsive, and the best way to do that is by eliminating bottlenecks that can cause latency.
- Make sure that your computer has plenty of memory. RAM is significantly faster than your computer’s storage subsystem. If you have enough RAM to store all of the data for the game you’re playing, you’ll hardly need to use your hard drive or solid-state drive at all except when loading new levels.
- Buy a solid-state drive if you don’t already have one. You don’t ever want to run a game from a magnetic hard drive if you can avoid it.
- Connect your computer directly to your router via Ethernet to instantly eliminate several milliseconds of latency.
- Invest in low-latency peripherals for gaming. It’s usually best to go with a wired mouse and keyboard.
Consider Playing at a Lower Screen Resolution
While it’s true that a game always looks best at the highest possible screen resolution and with the detail settings maxed out, anything that leads to lower framerates and dropped frames is going to seriously hurt your gaming performance. It’s those make-or-break moments – when everything is happening at once – that decide the outcomes of games, and those are the moments when your computer is most likely to experience slowdowns. Consider playing at a lower screen resolution and reducing the detail level in your game to maintain smooth performance.
If you have a gaming monitor with a refresh rate higher than 60 Hz, make sure that you’ve configured your operating system to take advantage of the higher refresh rate. A game’s framerate can only be as high as the refresh rate of your monitor.
Avoid the Patterns That Lead to Mental Ruts
One of the most important things to know about gaming – and life – is that your brain activity decreases if you don’t force yourself to experience situations that are new and novel. This phenomenon has been studied by researchers with the hope of enhancing our understanding of topics like workplace cognition and the aging of the brain. To maintain mental agility, you need to expose yourself to new situations.
When you play your usual game, do you always choose the same character or class? Do you always pick the same weapon? Do you always run the same routes through maps? If so, you shouldn’t be surprised if your gaming performance is stagnant. You’re not thinking anymore; you’re playing by muscle memory.
If you feel like your gaming performance has hit a plateau, it’s time to change things up. Force yourself to play in different ways and consider alternative strategies. If you need inspiration, watch a few popular streamers and see what they’re doing. Although you may find that your normal strategy still works best for you, there’s a good chance that you’ll improve because you’ve forced your brain out of its rut.